Antifibrinolytic agents and desmopressin as hemostatic agents in cardiac surgery

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

15 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To review the use of systemic hemostatic medications for reducing bleeding and transfusion requirements with cardiac surgery. DATA SOURCES: Articles were obtained through computerized searches involving MEDLINE (from 1966 to September 2000). Additionally, several textbooks containing information on the diagnosis and management of bleeding associated with cardiac surgery were reviewed. The bibliographies of retrieved publications and textbooks were reviewed for additional references. STUDY SELECTION: Due to the large number of randomized investigations involving systemic hemostatic medications for reducing bleeding associated with cardiac surgery, the article selection process focused on recent randomized controlled trials, metaanalyses, and pharmacoeconomic evaluations. DATA EXTRACTION: The primary outcomes extracted from the literature were blood loss and associated transfusion requirements, although other outcome measures such as mortality were extracted when available. DATA SYNTHESIS: Although the majority of investigations for reducing cardiac bleeding and transfusion requirements have involved aprotinin, evidence from recent meta-analyses and randomized trials indicates that the synthetic antifibrinolytic agents, aminocaproic acid and tranexamic acid, have similar clinical efficacy. Additionally, aminocaproic acid (and to a lesser extent tranexamic acid) is much less costly. More comparative information of hemostatic agents is needed relative to other outcomes (e.g., reoperation rates, myocardial infarction, stroke). There is insufficient evidence to recommend the use of desmopressin for reducing bleeding and transfusion requirements in cardiac surgery, although certain subsets of patients may benefit from its use. CONCLUSIONS: Of the medications that have been used to reduce bleeding and transfusion requirements with cardiac surgery, the antifibrinolytic agents have the best evidence supporting their use. Aminocaproic acid is the least costly therapy based on medication costs and transfusion requirements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1075-1084
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of Pharmacotherapy
Issue number9
StatePublished - Jan 1 2001


  • Aminocaproic acid
  • Aprotinin
  • Cardiac surgery
  • Desmopressin
  • Tranexamic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)

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